Anomaly Agent is many things. It’s part platformer, part brawler, and part shooter. It involves time travel, combo moves, boss fights, and upgradeable weapons. It also has a rocking soundtrack. In short, it’s a fun and fast-paced action title from newcomers Phew Phew Games. It happens to be the first title for this indie dev, and it’s a stellar way to kick things off.

In Anomaly Agent, you play the role of the renowned Agent 70 as he embarks on his final mission before a promotion. He works for a company called TDAY, a peace-keeping outfit similar to the TVA of Marvel’s world. Their job is to stop anomalies caused by the misuse of artifacts that can, for example, disrupt the flow of time. There’s one loose end that needs tying up before Agent 70 can begin his new job, and it just happens to be a doozy. 

I won’t spoil the plot; half the fun is unraveling the story as you go. Put simply, someone has messed with time, causing several anomalies to appear. Your goal is to stop them before they cause permanent damage, and set things right again. Things get complicated, and there are decisions to make along the way about where your loyalties lie. The story is well-written, creating an interesting and engaging narrative. 

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While time-related shenanigans are nothing new, Anomaly Agent puts its own spin on things. One such aspect comes about halfway through when Agent 70 becomes stuck in his own personal time loop. To rectify this situation, players are sent back to previously conquered areas (for reasons I won’t spoil). Revisiting levels in a game is risky, opening up room for repetition. However, Anomaly Agent handles this well, keeping the levels shorter the second time around. Additionally, you now move from left to right, rather than the typical right to left, keeping the experience feeling fresh.

Anomaly Agent features three difficulty levels: easy, medium, and hard. Even on the lowest setting, I wouldn’t say it’s a particularly easy game. Having said that, Agent 70 comes equipped with an ungradable health bar and unlimited lives. Save points are automatic and frequent. It creates an experience that’s never frustrating, even when things go wrong. And they often do.

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Boss fights are the perfect example. There are many throughout the game, including midway through the levels. These big baddies are strong, forcing you to find the best approach to take them down. Thankfully, most fights occur in multiple phases; once you deplete half of their health bar, there’s a pause of some kind. Maybe the fight relocates, initiating a chase sequence. Perhaps the brief interlude includes taunts or new weapon drops. Either way, it breaks up the gameplay enough to keep things fresh and give you a respawn point. 

General enemies mostly take on the form of “clones,” Agent Smith-like characters that can merge with each other to become more powerful. There are many variants, with stronger versions of each as you proceed. To combat them, you’re equipped with a few weapons of your own. These include melee weapons like your fists and a baseball bat, along with long-range items like a boomerang. While you don’t sport a gun of your own, you can use those dropped by enemies, creating some fun and diverse combat styles.

This leads to two things. Firstly, there’s a terrific combo system. Unlocking new combos gives you stronger ways to beat enemies. These not only look cool, but they’re satisfying to pull off. Secondly, there’s a deep leveling-up system. You can stop by the local robot vending machine to swap coins for things like extra damage, extra bullets, or adding poisonous gas to other weapons.

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Graphically, Anomaly Agent looks great. It sports a colorful cyberpunk style with pixelated characters and varied environments. I appreciate the splash-screen intro to each new character, giving a comic-style vibe that works well. Some background and foreground elements could use a little more distinction at times; there was the odd occasion when I wasn’t sure if something in the background was going to hit me, or if something in the foreground was a platform or a backdrop. 

Another minor deficiency is a noticeable lag after lengthy play sessions. When my jumps became too slow to be useful, I restarted the game and found no further issues. It’s most likely something to do with the limited memory of the Switch, but it still feels like it could have been optimized better.

The synthwave soundtrack is a real treat. The tunes got stuck in my head (in a good way), and I loved revisiting levels just to hear them again. Each section of the game features different songs, surging with adrenaline-pumping beats that keep you moving along quickly. When levels feature nightclubs, the audio becomes particularly important, but it rocks the whole way through.

Overall, Anomaly Agent provides a fast, slick adventure through time. The developers have done a great job with this, their first game, paving the way for the team’s promising future. Despite a few little technical glitches, this is one title worth checking out.